Submitted: 04-07-2010 by Kevin
Is there a better kayak than the Ocean Kayak Caper? Not for me, its the best of the best. However, it's not a perfect 10 and I'll tell you why.
At 11'0" and 45 lbs. is very easy to load and unload alone into the bed of my pickup. Many longer kayaks require two people and a kayak trailer or special transport rigging, not the Caper. My storage space is limited to 11'3" so the Caper fits great. Once in the water, its design continues to impress. I bought scupper plugs and my seat is 100% dry (I weight 170 lbs). With or without using plugs in the front feet scuppers, a small amount of water comes off my paddle and lands around my feet. I now prefer no plugs in the front so the water can drain. In my opinion the molded foot wells on the Caper are far superior to sliding adjustable foot braces found on many other kayaks. I love the paddle holders! The large hatch in the front keep water out on choppy lakes from my experience. Tracking and speed, excellent and excellent. I'm sure there are better, but for use on rivers and lakes (every other day I hit the water and go 10 miles minimum each day) I do not desire better.
I wish the side handles were on the outside instead inside which makes it difficult to grab hold to while loading alone. The molded tank-well works well for my ice-chest, backpack, etc. However, it's too narrow for a standard size milk crate (not that I care, but you might). I bought the OK 6" CAM Locking Hatch (about $40) and had the dealer install it directly in front of the seat. Unfortunately when you open it it, it provides direct access to the hull and does not come with a cat bag (nor will any cat bag fit it). OK should have designed a molded water proof storage area under this hatch and included the hatch on all Capers, not just an additional upgraded. Fortunately, my dealer installed a bucket with a sponge under it while installing the hatch. That way when I can put things down there and they will not get wet or slide around in the hull.
Now for kayaks greatest flaw and not just the Caper. LEAKS! I bought my first Caper new and took it out for the first time only to discover it had major leaks in the scuppers. The dealer exchanged it for another new one that didn't leak. Satisfied, I went and bought a second Caper for family and friends to use and guess what. It also leaked from the scuppers and was exchanged for another one that didn't. Word to the wise, test your kayak (new or used) by getting a hose and filling the hull with water. If you see any leaks, you have a problem. TEST every time you are buying.
Overall, if Ocean Kayak improved the 6" center hatch, relocated the side handles to the outside, slightly enlarged the molded tank-well and improved their Quality Assurance the Caper would be flawless (perfect 10).